Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Way You Talk

Have you ever been in a conversation -- or overheard a conversation -- and heard someone say a phrase or word that just sticks with you?

When I was in college, I had a philosophy professor who had a very quirky way of describing things. He was an older gentleman, very kind and easy-going (and very forgetful... he gave us the same assignment a few times in a row... oops.)

We worked in groups in that class, and when my group (3 other girls and myself) was finished with our work, we'd talk and talk. Sometimes our discussions got lively and full of dramatic storytelling. Every time our professor walked by and heard us gabbing away, he'd always say the same thing:

"So much drama! What is this, the soaps?"

And we'd all laugh with him.

The soaps?

I love it. It was such a part of my professor's character to describe things like that. I wouldn't have immediately thought of soap operas when overhearing college students talking dramatically, but he did.

Something made me think of that class the other day, and I realized how we all have our ways of talking that are specific to us. I'm sure I have plenty of quirks that I'm not aware of. And if you're a writer, it's a good idea to be mindful of characters' vocabularies and preferred phrases, too.

What are some peculiar or interesting phrases that you've heard?


Anne Gallagher said...

When I was growing up everything was "wicked". Wicked cool, wicked good, wicked hot.

Congrats again on your new book! Much success to you!

Jemi Fraser said...

So true! We have one prof who spoke multiple languages and it took us all weeks to figure out this one word she used. Sounded like Kar-ACK-ter which of course turned out to be character. Kar-ACK-teristics too. :)

Anonymous said...

I work at a high school. Listening to them talk – and sometimes having to decipher what they're saying! – is always an adventure.

S.P. Bowers said...

So true, certain expressions, or the turn of a phrase can really bring a person or place to mind. When we moved to Georgia our realtor kept telling us about houses with pickan trees. Took us two weeks to figure out she meant pecan.

Quanie Miller said...

Well, I'm from southwest Louisiana and we certainly have a particular way of saying things! This always trickles over to my writing as well.

ed pilolla said...

that's such a great quote. it's real. it says something about the person saying it and the group he's directing it to.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

One gal I knew used to say the word "absurd" so much, we considered stuffing a dirty sock into her mouth. And we had a French teacher who used the phrase "c'est a dire" so insanely often, we paid more attention to how many times she used it during a class period than we did to whatever else she was saying.

Christine Rains said...

I had a professor that could say everything with an eyebrow raise without even raising his eyebrows... if that makes sense!

Stephanie Faris said...

Sixth grade...if anyone ever said, "But I thought..." the teacher would say, "That's what you get for thinking when you're not used to it." I try not to say that to people today, though, because it's kind of insulting!

You must be around my age to have had a professor who felt that his class would even know what soap operas were!

Laurel Garver said...

Those funny associations people make do tell you a lot about their histories in very few words. It's a great thing to work into our fiction too. I love reading everyone else's examples above!

Crystal Collier said...

I have a friend whose word is "interesting." If you hear interesting out of her mouth, you know you've done something crazy or stupid.

T. Drecker said...

I had a cousin who always said 'fresh'. It never fit to anything. I know my kids are more than happy to point out any words or phrases I get hung up on. And yeah, this is important for characters. . .thanks for the reminder.

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